Anyone who has ever used painter's tape has quickly realized that it is not as perfect as the commercials lead you to believe. Painter's tape can bubble, causing paint to seep underneath and get everywhere. Painting stripes on a wall requires that painter's tape be perfect, else the stripes will look sloppy. Here are a few tips for painting stripes on a wall to get a professional result.
Dust, oil, and dirt on a wall can cause painter's tape to not adhere properly. Even if the wall looks clean, it should still be wiped down thoroughly to ensure that the tape will stick properly.
Check for Level
A wavy line looks unprofessional, so make sure the stripes are completely level. You can use a laser level or a manual level to mark where the lines will go.
Apply Tape Securely
Put the painter's tape on your wall where you want the stripes. Do not pull or stretch the tape, else it may bubble. Work with strips of tape approximately 2 foot long and constantly check to make sure the line is totally straight. Press the tape very firmly to the wall. You may want to use an old credit card or bone folder to press the tape into the wall and ensure that it is totally secure.
Paint Base Color
To ensure a perfectly straight line without bleeding, paint over the edge of the painter's tape with the original wall color. This step is especially important if you have a heavy texture on your walls. If your wall is white and you want to paint a gray stripe, paint over the tape edge in white (the exact same color as your walls) before painting the gray stripe. If you are painting a stripe against a heavily textured ceiling, you may want to "paint" over the painter's tape edge using paintable caulk to fill in the gaps before painting the base color. Painting or caulking the base color fills in any tiny gaps or cracks that you may have in the tape, making the seal perfect (or really close to perfect).
Paint Stripe Color
After the base color has completely dried, paint the stripe color of your choice. You may need 2 coats of paint or more.
After your paint has dried, but before the clean removal date on the painter's tape that you purchased, slowly remove the tape at a 45 degree angle. If your tape does not want to be removed cleanly, use a utility knife to gently cut the edge between the painter's tape and wall to release the tape. Make sure you do not cut into the drywall.